The third and final non-conference game for the Baylor Bears matches them up with another smaller school. In the first road game of the year for the Bears, they will go to a rather curious destination. After opening the season hosting SMU and Sam Houston State, Baylor will take on the Sun Belt Conference member on their home field. This is the first trip for the Bears to a smaller conference school since 2003, when they visited UNT in Denton under Guy Morriss.
The Warhawks are led by 3rd year head coach Todd Berry, an offensive minded coach that has been around the block a few times. He was the head man at Army earlier this decade, but after a disastrous 5-35 record, he was let go. After his stint at Army, he came to ULM as their offensive coordinator/ QB Coach for a few season, then went on to University of Miami (FL) to be their QB coach. Finally, he was brought back to replace Charlie Weatherbie.
Last Year - 4-8 (3-5), no postseason
Conference Membership - Sun Belt Conference
Coach - Todd Berry, 3rd year, 9-15 at ULM, 38-74 overall (14-50 at the FBS level)
Major Forums - www.WarhawkNation.com (scout site)
Per Game Team Statistics
Returning Starters - 6
Key Losses - Anthony McCall, WR; Ryan McCaul, C; Anthony Montgomery, RT; Luther Ambrose, WR
ULM loses both of its starting tackles, its starting center and two starting wide receivers. At the tackle spots, they will start two sophomores with good size. Jeremy Burton takes over at the left side, and is 6-2 314lbs.
Their major skill players though are coming back. Ambrose and McCal both got a lot of playing time, but they combined for just 43 receptions between them last year as they finished 5th and 6th in receptions. Their two main targets are Brent Leonard and Tavarese Maye. Leonard had 69 receptions and 4 touchdowns, while Maye added another 50 catches and three touchdowns. Getting them the ball is third year starter Kolton Browning. The 6-1 quarterback is a dual threat, finishing with over 400 yards rushing and 2400 yards passing. As a freshman, Browning earned some freshman all-american accolades, as he finished with over 2500 yards passing for the Warhawks.
Browning has struggled with consistency the past 2 seasons. During his Freshman campaign, he had 7 games in a row with over 200 yards passing. Last season though was a bit more up and down. He never had more than 2 games in a row of over 200 yards passing. Against their three marquee non-conference opponents (TCU, Florida State and Iowa) he averaged just 137 yards passing with just 1 touchdown passing and 1 interception. They lost those three games by a combined score of 117-34.
ULM runs a common spread/option attack. They like to do the quarterback read, and will play their whole attack off of this one play. Their offense seems to be very similar to the Baylor attack, in terms of using the play-action pass off of the zone/read. They Averaged 255 yards (50th)passing per game and 153 rushing yards(65th) per game on their way to 24.6 points per game (78th). Their offensive statistics would indicate an inefficient offense, with more yards than their points would show. This is a methodical offense, rather than a big play offense. They rely on getting first downs, rather than having big plays.
They are more of a running team, with 3 solid rushers in Jryuss Edwards (team-best 667 yards, 11 touchdowns), Centarius Donald (414 yards) and Mitchell Bailey (212 yards). Edwards is the best of the bunch and is a solid running back, who pairs well with Browning to form a solid rushing attack.
The big question for this offense is pass protection. They struggled to keep Browning upright last year and allow him to convert 3rd and longs especially. Their left tackle last season, Joseph Treadwell struggled in pass protection and is being replaced by Jeremy Burton. They will have a lot of shuffling going on in the trenches to start the season, so this is something to keep an eye on.
Returning Starters - 3
Key Losses - Troy Evans, DT; Ken Dorsey, DE; Jason Edwards, MLB; Darius Prelow S/LB; Tim Taylor, CB; Nate Brown, CB
The Warhawks lose their top two tacklers in Edwards and Prelow, they lose their two leading pass rushers in Evans and Dorsey, and they lose their interceptions leaders in Prelow. They are losing quite a bit of talent. However, this was by far the strength of the team last year. They play a very aggressive 3-3-5 defense, which allows for a ton of speed on the field. This is a defense that you do not get to see very often in college football, so the Bears will have some preparation to do.
However, with having to replace 8 starters, there are some big question marks for ULM. They are small on the defensive line, with their "nose tackle" being just 265 pounds. Last seasons tackle, Gerrand Johnson, is being moved to end. While they are small in the trenches, the ULM linebackers are actually bigger than what Baylor will put out there. All three of their linebackers are over 225 lbs. They are returning 2 starters from the linebacker group, but are missing their top guy from last season in Edwards. Austin Moss, a JUCO transfer that started his college career at the University of Arkansas, is listed as the starter right now, and the Warhawk faithful are very excited about him.
The biggest question for the ULM defense though is the secondary. With five defensive backs, that is a LARGE part of the defense. Losing Darius Prelow, a first team all-Sum Belt selection, is a big loss. He was a tremendous player for the Warhawks, but they have some depth there to replace him. Cordero Smith, Khairi Usher and Isaiah Newsome are all back and will compete to fill in the "Rover" position in the 3-3-5 defense.
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